Task force to monitor prices amid TRAIN fuel tax hike urged

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Task force to monitor prices amid TRAIN fuel tax hike urged
This file photo shows Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian during a Senate hearing.
The STAR / Geremy Pintolo, File

MANILA, Philippines — As another round of tax increases takes effect to open the new year, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian called for the creation of a task force to monitor implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act.

Towards the end of 2019, consumers were warned of another round of price hikes owing to the last tranche of the excise tax hike as part of Republic Act 10963, which aims to impose higher taxes on fuel products to raise funds for government infrastructure projects, among others. 

Gasoline prices per liter will see yet another increase of P1.00, while P1.50 is added to diesel prices and P1.00 for kerosene.  

The senator called on both the Department of Energy and the Department of Trade and Industry to monitor the market prices of goods to ensure that these would not be taken advantage of as a result of the increases of the third tranche.

"Kailangan paigtinging mabuti ng Department of Energy ang pagbabantay laban sa hoarding at profiteering sa bansa ngayong nakaamba ang dagdag na excise tax sa huling pagkakataon," Gatchalian said.

(The Department of Energy needs to tighten their watch against hoarding and profiteering in the country with the threat of the rise in excise tax.)

Oil firms Petro Gazz, Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp, Seaoil Philippines and Cleanfuel all confirmed their price hikes for the new year in separate advisories, and all four have already implemented the hikes as of this writing.

Labor groups have bemoaned the effects brought on by TRAIN's implementation; in 2018, the purchasing power of monthly salary, particularly that of minimum wage earners, eroded beyond what the Philippine Statistics Authority said was the standard amount to survive above the poverty line. 

"Huwag na nating hayaan ang ilang mapagsamantalang retailers na ibenta sa mataas na halaga ang kanilang mga lumang imbentaryong produkto, gayong nabili nila ito bago pa man maimplementa ang third tranche ng excise tax sa fuel," he added.

(Let's not let these retailers to sell at high prices their old inventory products that they bought from even before the tranche of excise tax was implemented.)

Affected by the price hikes were oils widely used in both private and public transportation, on top of cooking gas and lubricating oils.

Price increases feared

Party-list Bayan Muna said on Monday that these latest adjustments may lead prices to skyrocket as high as P7 per liter for diesel in January, given the price of transporting from depots to outlets. 

"This would have a tremendous effect on the prices of basic goods as well as transportation fares and may be worse than the price shocks we experienced in 2018," Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate (Bayan Muna) said in a statement.

The final prices are still subjected to the 12% value-added tax on top of the additional tariffs. 

Speaking of basic goods, the price hikes come as the country has also firmly cemented its import-dependent status with both galunggong and rice. 

"Mabigat na sa bulsa ng bawat isa ang pagpataw ng excise tax sa krudo," Gatchalian said.

"Sana naman ay huwag na natin dagdagan ang pasanin ng taong bayan sa pamamagitan ng hindi makatarungang pagtaas ng presyo ng mga pangunahing bilihin."

(The imposition of excise tax on crude oil is heavy on the pockets of each and every one. If only we don't add to the burdens of the people by unjustly raising the prices of basic goods.) 



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